Electronic Assassinations Newsletter
This is a list of twelve of the most surprising examples of author Gerald Posner's mistakes and misrepresentations in his book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy entitled Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Posner's supporters have been asking for examples of deliberate deception. I challenge his defenders to show how all of these examples could be explained as carelessness, sloppiness or incompetence on Posner's part? Perhaps we should propose a new word for the English language. On pages 468-9 of his book, Posner provides a definition of a "Posnerism." He is engaging in one of his many attacks on Warren Commission critics when he states that "an increasing amount of published work is a dangerous mixture of good information with a liberal dose of falsehoods." Below you will find one dozen examples from a much larger list of one hundred mistakes I have collected. The full list is available for anyone to see (at no cost) in a longer article published at http://home.cynet.net/jfk. Many of the mistakes that I document were found by other Posner critics and are also posted at this same Web site in the form of articles. The collection of articles comprises the first issue of a free electronic newsletter. If someone wants to write a response defending Posner and explaining the items listed in this article, please feel free to send it to the site and it could be included in the newsletter. It must be substantive, must address the issues presented in this list and must be civil in tone. If Posner himself wants to refute these examples we welcome (and will also post) his response in the newsletter.
The following items from the pages of Case Closed show:1) Page 4. A reference to non-existent testimony.
2) Page 12. Use of a discredited witness to show a potential for violence.
3) Page 13. The same witness and two false references used to misrepresent Oswald's potential for violence and to attack a Warren Commission critic.
4) Page 127. A citation that contradicts the statement that it is supposed to support.
5) Page 224. Combination of two witnesses' testimony to deliberately misrepresent.
6) Page 225. Selecting from various conflicting accounts given by the same witness.
7) Page 227. Misrepresentation of an entire group of witnesses' stories.
8) Page 233. Repetition of an easily disproven lone-assassin myth.
9) Page 247. Having it both ways with an astonishing example of self-contradiction.
10) Page 260. References to contradictory sources to argue a clearly false assertion.
11) Page 321. Taking credit for a "discovery" and then citing the article where the person first revealed this discovery as a source on another related topic.
12) Page 496. Attempting to debunk a mysterious death with unsourced, false information.
1) Page 4. The author cites Dallas Police Detective Bob Carroll, who participated in the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald at the Texas Theater, as a source for Oswald "smirking and hollering, 'I protest this police brutality.'" When we check the actual testimony of Bob Carroll to the Warren Commission, there is a similar quote but no mention of any Oswald facial expression. (1) The implication of this invented grin is that a fanatical political assassin is proud of his deed and must be smirking in smug satisfaction because of his accomplishment.(2)(1) WC Vol. 7, p. 21. (2) Jerry Rose, "The Deadly Smirk and Other Inventions," The Fourth Decade, November, 1993.
2) Page 12. The author gives us some proof of Oswald's psychological potential to become an assassin by quoting from a discredited witness by the name of Renatus Hartogs. Hartogs did a psychological evaluation of Oswald when, as a child, Oswald was caught skipping school. Hartogs told the Warren Commission that Oswald had "definite traits of dangerousness." (3) In fact Warren Commission attorney Wesley Liebeler challenged him on this point and revealed that Hartogs had said no such thing in his report in 1953. (4) Hartogs then retracts this statement and Liebeler calls for the addition of the actual text of Hartogs' 1953 report to be added to the end of the record of his April 16, 1964 deposition.(3) WC Vol. 8, p. 217. (4) Gary Aguilar, "Letter to the Editor of the Federal Bar News and Journal," Federal Bar News and Journal, 1994. James R. Folliard, "Gerald Posner Closes the Case,"The Fourth Decade, November, 1993. Peter Dale Scott, "A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Skokie, Illinois, Green Archives Publications, 1995.
3) Page 13n. Mr. Posner uses false background information to attack the credibility of the late, highly respected author, Sylvia Meagher, and to rehabilitate the discredited witness, Dr. Renatus Hartogs. Sylvia Meagher concluded that there was no reason to find Oswald mentally unsound. (5) Posner cites Hartogs and the reports of two Soviet psychiatrists to refute her. (6) We already know about Hartogs' unreliability from the previous item. One of the reports concluded that Oswald was, "not dangerous to other people." (7) The other report describes Oswald's attitude as being "completely normal" (8) and finds that "no psychotic symptoms were noted." (9) This is an example of Posner citing sources that show the exact opposite of what he claims they show. (10)(5) Sylvia Meagher, Accessories after the Fact: The Warren Commission, The Authorities and the Truth, NY, Vintage Books, 1967, 1976, p. 244. (6) James R. Folliard, "Gerald Posner Closes the Case,"The Fourth Decade, November, 1993. (7) WC Vol. 18, p. 464. (8) WC Vol. 18, p. 468. (9) WC Vol. 18, p. 473. (10) Peter Dale Scott, "A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK," Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Skokie, Illinois, Green Archives Publications, 1995.
4) Page 127. Posner claims that on May 29, 1963 Oswald "'went to the Jones Printing Company" to order 1000 pro-Cuba handbills. His reference for this is an FBI report by Special agent John M. McCarthy concerning McCarthy's interview of Myra Silver. (11) When shown a photograph of Oswald she was unable to recognize him as the man who ordered the handbills from her. So what we have here is a classic Posnerism. He cites testimony that contradicts the point it is supposed to support. (12)(11) WC Vol. 22, p. 797. (12) Martin Shackelford,"Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique," The Investigator, August-September, 1993.
5) Page 224. According to Gerald Posner, Oswald's neighbor Linnie Mae Randle saw Oswald on the morning of the assassination carrying a package "under his armpit, and the other end did not quite touch the ground." This is a classic Posnerism. (13) He has combined Randle's testimony with her brother's to give a deliberate false impression. Her brother, Buell Wesley Frazier (who saw Oswald at a different time carrying the package), said that Oswald had one end in his right hand and the other end under his armpit. (14) In Frazier's description, he mentions nothing about the package being anywhere near "the ground." In Linnie Mae Randle's statement to the FBI of Dec. 2, 1963, she said Oswald was carrying a package in his right hand and that it was long but it did not touch the ground as he walked across the street. (15) She said nothing about it being "under his armpit." In Randle's testimony in Washington, DC, she further clarified this by saying that Oswald held it at "the top with just a little bit sticking up." (16) To the FBI she demonstrated that it was 27 inches long. (17) To attorney Ball she said it was "a little bit more than two feet long." (18) This was much shorter than the three foot length of the package in evidence and much too short to have contained the rifle, even in a disassembled state.(13) James R. Folliard, "Gerald Posner Closes the Case, "The Fourth Decade, November, 1993. (14) WC Vol. 2, p. 228. (15) WC Vol. 24, p. 407. (16) WC Vol. 2, p. 248. (17) WC Vol. 24, p. 408. (18) WC Vol. 2, p. 249.
6) Page 225. Posner says Bonnie Ray Williams saw Oswald at 11:40 AM on the east side of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, "near the windows overlooking Dealey Plaza." On March 19, 1964 Williams said, in an FBI interview, that the last time he saw Oswald was "at about 11:40 AM. At that time Oswald was on the sixth floor on the east side of the building." (19) But then we check his Warren Commission testimony of March 24, 1964 and he marks a spot on a chart at the north side of the building where he last saw Oswald at 11:45-11:50 AM. (20). To show just how bad this particular witness was we can refer to Williams' sworn affidavit from Nov. 22, 1963 where he says he didn't see Oswald at all after he "saw him at 8 AM." (21) Posner took his pick from three different versions to find one that was consistent with the lone assassin theory and completely ignored the other versions given by the same, unreliable witness. (22)(19) WC Vol. 22, pp. 681-2. (20) WC Vol. 3, p. 167. (21) WC Vol. 24, p. 229. (22) Jerry Rose, "The Deadly Smirk and Other Inventions," The Fourth Decade, November, 1993.
7) Page 227. We find out from Posner that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't in the Texas School Book Depository lunchroom around noon like he had claimed to be when questioned by authorities after his arrest. How does Posner know? We find out that three of the Warren Commission's most pliable witnesses say they were eating in that lunchroom in their later Commission testimony. When we check Posner's references for Charles Givens we see he said no such thing. (23) When asked by attorney Belin if he ate in the Texas School Book Depository that day, Givens says, "No sir." (24) Danny Arce said in his Warren Commission testimony that he ate "In that little Domino Room there." (25) In Arce's affidavit of Nov. 22, 1963 he said, "At lunch time at 12:00 noon I went down on the street to see the parade." (26) He said he was standing at "Elm and Houston" at 12:30 PM when he heard shots. (27) Jack Dougherty does say he ate "In the Domino Room" when he testified to the Warren Commission on April 8, 1964, but he says on the next page of the testimony that he thinks he ate lunch after the assassination. (28) The Warren Commission Report describes Dougherty as being "confused." (29)(23) Peter Dale Scott, "A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, "Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Skokie, Illinois, Green Archives Publications, 1995. (24) WC Vol. 6, p. 352. (25) WC Vol. 6, p. 365. (26) WC Vol. 24, p. 199. (27) WC Vol. 6, p. 378. (28) WC Vol. 6, p. 379. (29) WC Report, p. 153.
8) Page 233. Posner parrots the often-repeated myth that "no Secret Service men rode on the running boards attached to the rear" of JFK's limousine. (30) Posner ignores or doesn't know about agent Clint Hill's testimony to the Warren Commission that he rode on the back of the limousine "approximately four times." (31) And now, thanks to the work of the Assassination Records Review Board, we have corroboration for Clint Hill's testimony. A recently discovered film taken from the car immediately following the limousine shows Hill riding on the back of the Limousine. (32) Although no reference is given, William Manchester seems to be the source of this error. (33)(30) Martin Shackelford, "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique," The Investigator, August-September, 1993. (31) WC Vol. 2, p. 136. (32) Dave Powers film, National Archives. (33) William Manchester, The Death of a President, NY, Harper & Row, 1967, p. 37.
9) Page 247. Posner accepts the witness, James Worrell, who claims to have seen "what you might call a little flash of fire and then smoke." (34) Posner embraces this description uncritically because it presumably gives him a witness to a rifle firing in the Texas School Book Depository window where Oswald is supposed to be. Actually, Posner combines two similar but different statements on the same page of testimony into one. This compositing of testimony doesn't appreciably change the meaning. Quote number one is, "Well I saw what you might call a little flame and smoke." Quote number two describes a third shot and Worrell says, "same thing, a little flash of fire and then smoke." What Worrell says after this is something that Posner, in his selective, deceptive style, has to avoid. Worrell says, I didn't see it on the fourth one." It is inconvenient that this witness clearly describes four shots and not the three that Posner's flavor of lone assassin theory depends upon. In an affidavit signed by Worrell on Nov. 22, 1963 he said that he didn't see the first shot's fire and smoke, he did see it on the second and he ran and (while running) heard, but did not see, a third and fourth shot. (35) This is another example of Posner's choice of witnesses with evolving and changing testimony that he so often uses to "close" the case. But this is not the worst part about this example. With prosecutorial zeal Posner does everything he can to discredit several Grassy Knoll witnesses. Some witnesses noticed what appeared to be a puff of smoke rising up from the Knoll area. To counter these witnesses Posner completely reverses himself in relation to the fire and smoke aspect nine pages later. He makes a truly mindless error of self-contradiction by stating categorically that "modern ammunition is smokeless." (36)(34) WC Vol. 2, p. 200. (35) WC Vol. 16, p. 959. (36) James R. Folliard, "Gerald Posner Closes the Case," The Fourth Decade, November, 1993.
10) Page 256. On the day of the assassination Posner says, "there was a stiff wind blowing north to south." This is an attempt to explain why people in the motorcade smelled gunpowder immediately after the shots were fired. When we check his references for this claim we see Posner at his deceptive best on this issue. Mrs. Robert Reid said, "the wind was blowing a little bit," but gives no direction at all. (37) Luke Mooney says, "The wind was blowing pretty high," and again we see he gives no direction at all. (38) James Romack states, "The wind was blowing a little bit from the south that day." (39) Only two of his cited five witnesses talk of wind from the north. Tom Dillard said, "there developed a very brisk north wind." (40) James Altgens says, "The north wind caught her (Jackie Kennedy's) hat and almost blew it off." (41) So on this point we have two supporting witnesses, two who offer no verification and one that flatly contradicts Posner's statement. (139) The House Select Committee on Assassinations checked the wind direction for that day and found that at 12:30 PM the wind was blowing from the west. (46) This wind direction suggests that the occupants of the cars traveling west would not have smelled gunpowder at all if the smell was originating from Texas School Book Depository. In fact it would not have entered the Dealey Plaza zone at all and would have headed east from Oswald's alleged perch. For the purpose of this study we will count this as one error, even though it involves three misrepresentations of testimony.(37) WC Vol. 3, p. 273. (38) WC Vol. 3, p. 282. (39) WC Vol. 6, p. 280. (40) WC Vol. 6, p. 165. (41) WC Vol. 7, p. 517. (42) Michael M. Dworetsky, "Wind and Gunsmoke: A Deception in Gerald Posner's Case Closed," Electronic Assassinations Newsletter, Issue #1, http://home.cynet.net/jfk/ (43) HSCA Vol. 8, pp. 21, 173-4.
11) Page 321. Occasionally Posner refers to mysterious new "enhancements" of the Zapruder film. He never really explains what he means by this, but he attempts to use this to prove parts of his case. He claims that these "enhancements" helped him deduce that a shot was fired around frame Z162. This is because he has noticed that 10-year-old Rosemary Willis stops running alongside the limousine and looks back toward the Texas School Book Depository just after Z162. Posner claims this is new when it was actually first discovered by David Lui back in the 70s. Lui noticed this when viewing a bad, bootleg copy of the film. (44) He even has the nerve to cite David Lui's article as a reference for a quote from Rosemary Willis later in his text. (45)(44) Harold Weisberg, Case Open: The Omissions, Distortions and Falsifications of Case Closed, NY, Carroll and Graf, 1994, p. 11-14. (45) David Lui, "The Little Girl Must Have Heard," The Dallas Times Herald, June 3, 1979.
12) Page 496. One of Posner's "debunked" mysterious deaths is that of Mary Sherman. As author Jim DiEugenio points out, Mary Sherman was not killed in an accidental fire (as Posner would have you believe). Posner gets the cause of death wrong. She didn't die as a result of burns or smoke inhalation. If you consider the knife wounds in her arm, leg, stomach and one that pierced her heart, it makes little sense to label her death as an accident. (46) There is another mistake in his evaluation of the death of Mary Sherman that has no bearing on conspiracy. It is just another example of his carelessness. Posner says Sherman died in 1967. Dr. Mary Sherman (who was an associate of David Ferrie) died in 1964 on the day that the Warren Commission began taking testimony in New Orleans. (47) Her death is still considered an unsolved murder by New Orleans Police. (48)(46) New Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, Autopsy Report on Mary Sherman, July 21, 1964. Edward T. Haslam, Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus, Albuquerque, NM, 1995, pp. 248-50. (47) Jim DiEugenio, "Posner in New Orleans: Gerry in Wonderland," Dateline Dallas, November 22, 1993. (48) Kermit Tarleton, "Clues Lacking in Killing of Dr. Mary Sherman," New Orleans States Item, July 21, 1964.